How to Save on London Museum Visits

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Although visiting London can leave quite the dent in the bank account, one of the major perks about this incredible city is the plethora of free museums! The city clearly places value on the arts, which as a performing arts major, I greatly appreciate (I wish we had more access to free museums in the States, but oh well I’ll just have to keep dreaming.) I decided to put together a list of some of my favorite spots to visit whilst in the city to get exposed to the diverse range of galleries and exhibits London has to offer without adding an extra cost to your visit! I’ve divided them up by location in the city to hopefully make travel plans a bit easier, so here they are….

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1. The National Gallery

Located in Trafalgar Square, is a must see for anyone visiting London. It offers an array of paintings from as early as the thirteenth century! It is here that you’ll find the famous Arnolfini Portrait (gracing the pages of many history textbooks) as well as Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. The free admission makes it a staple for both art enthusiasts as well as anyone looking to gain some insight into the classical works of Western Europe, or even a peaceful afternoon stroll away from the hustle and bustle of city life. During my time in London, I found myself wandering in here to gain some culture, and view a portion of the museum that I may have overlooked during previous visits. I even stumbled across the Joseph Wright painting “An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump” which served as inspiration for the Shelagh Stephenson play of a similar title! The museum is open daily from 10am-6pm with extended hours on Friday till 9pm.

Tube Stop: Charing Cross (Served by the Bakerloo and Northern Lines)


2. The National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery is just around the corner from its relative, and just like the name implies, houses the  portraits of several important and famous people throughout history. This museum displays the collection of Tudor portraits, as well as paintings of the current Royal Family. If time isn’t a luxury on your visit, this is a perfect museum to pop into because it doesn’t take long to see the free exhibits! The museum is open to the public from 10am-6pm which is plenty of time to make it through the entire building.

Tube Stop: Charing Cross (Served by the Bakerloo and Northern Lines)


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3. Somerset House Exhibits

Somerset House offers a lovely area to simply grab a cup of coffee or tea at one of it’s cafes, and in addition to the permanent galleries that cost money for admission, often houses rotating free exhibitions. On my past visit to London, they had a fabulous photography display examining waste around the world. Currently on display for free admission are the AOI Illustration Awards Exhibition located in the Terrace Rooms until November 1st and the Marc Quinn Sculptures gracing the Fountain Court.

Tube Stop: Charing Cross (Served by the Bakerloo and Northern Lines) Temple (Served by the Circle and District Line) or Covent Garden (Served by the Piccadilly Line)


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4. The Hunterian Museum

This gem is hidden in a quaint square surrounding Lincoln’s Inn Fields and is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm. It took me until my second visit to London to make it over here, and I’m so glad that I did because it contains so much interesting information about the development and advancement of modern day surgery as well as anatomy displays from the collection of John Hunter. I would highly recommend this museum if you are fascinated by science, or are considering entering the medical field. The exhibit is located inside the the Royal College of Surgeons (When you see the sign in the photograph above, you’ll know you are in the right place), just check in at the reception desk and they will give you a visitor’s pass to access the museum.

Tube Stop: Holborn (Served by the Piccadilly and Central Lines)


5. The British Museum

The British Museum is probably most known for being the home to the Rosetta Stone, however, this museum not only offers incredible statues and artifacts from all over the world, the building architecture is breathtaking. Make sure to look up at the beautiful glass ceiling which allows natural light to beam through (and for instagrammers to get a perfect photo.) The museum is open daily from 10am-5:30pm with extended hours on Friday till 8:30pm.

Tube Stop: Holborn (Served by the Piccadilly and Central Lines)


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6. Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum is home to a collection of many exhibits ranging from natural geological formations to prehistoric specimens. Sure, it may be similar to other Natural History museums out there, but the architecture alone makes this museum a must see. Plus, it is just a short walk from the V&A making it convenient to visit two very different museums in one day! The museum is open daily from 10am-5:30pm and if you stay late enough, you might just see the exhibit come to life….

Tube Stop: South Kensington (Served by the Piccadilly and Circle and District Lines)


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7. Victoria and Albert Museum

Traveling in a group? The V&A is one of the best museums to visit in London because it’s both free and offers a variety of exhibits to satisfy everyone’s interests. Unique to the V&A from the other museums mentioned, it contains an extensive fashion collection ranging from the 18th century to contemporary designs. The museum also has a lovely courtyard perfect for a visit on a sunny afternoon. The gift shop at the Victoria and Albert museum is one of my absolute favorites, so for those of you in the market for a souvenir or postcard to send to a loved one back home, I would take a stroll through here upon your visit! The V&A is open to the public daily from 10am-5:45pm, and on the last Friday of every month, the museum opens it’s doors for special late night events lasting till 10pm. While studying abroad, I attended a late night fashion event (read about it here) with a group of friends and we all had a lot of fun getting to participate in the festivities and explore the museum exhibits.

Tube Stop: South Kensington (Served by the Piccadilly Line)


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8. Tate Modern

The Tate Modern is a fabulous museum to visit for the modern art fanatic, or even to get a gorgeous view of Central London overlooking the Thames. With rotating exhibits, the Tate Modern keeps each visit fresh, and the interactive art center makes it fun for all ages! Here you’ll find the works of Picasso and Jackson Pollock along with several other contemporary works using different design mediums. Grab a cup of tea or coffee from the cafe and relax out on the balcony to get some prime photographs of the city, or settle down on a computer to create a modern work of your own and walk away from your trip as a modern artist! If modern art isn’t your thing, the free admission and proximity to both the Globe and the National Theatre along the South Bank make this museum a perfect place to pop into during your stay. The museum is open to the public Sunday through Thursday from 10am-6pm and Friday through Saturday from 10am-10pm.

Tube Stop: Southwark (Served by the Jubilee Line) Blackfriars (Served by the District and Circle Lines) or if you fancy a nice walk along South Bank take the tube to London Bridge (Served by the Jubilee and Northern Lines), pass through the market, and follow the Thames to the Gallery.

Well there are my top museum recommendations for visiting London! While there are so many amazing museums to see in this city, I hope that this helps narrow down and provide some suggestions for places to see during your travels. If you have any questions or travel recommendations, let me know in the comments! Keep an eye out for future posts about my advice and experiences studying abroad.

Until next time,New blog signature 2

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“It’s Turkey Lurkey Time . . .”

Well it’s that time of the year again where we can all indulge in a delicious feast of food and sweets and not feel one ounce of guilt about it because we are spending our day in the company of friends and family! As a foodie, it’s only natural that I absolutely love Thanksgiving. Although I have definitely been spoiled with my mother’s good cooking as a result of  devoting her day to preparing the stuffed turkey, buttery yams, and homemade cranberry sauce among other things. But just because I’m overseas this year did not mean I would treat this Thursday like any ordinary day, oh no no no. . . I have to admit that it was a little difficult accepting the fact that I wouldn’t be able to spend the holiday with my family this year. It was hard to believe I would miss out on the tradition of pulling myself out of bed before noon to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, keeping my mom company in the kitchen while eating any handouts she might have to offer, or the epic nerf gun fights with my brother, and getting to spend real quality time with relatives, as cliché as that may sound. The eight-hour time difference didn’t really help any chance of a virtual Thanksgiving via Skype either. However, although I may have not gotten to celebrate the holiday with my immediate family, I was able to share new memories with my London family, something that I will greatly cherish when I look back on Thanksgivings in the future. I decided to share a piece of my day through this video which my friends so graciously were a part of (thank you Alex, Brian, Christian, Katelyn and Lidia). I’m so grateful that I have people in my life that surround me with joy, support and positivity who have allowed me to have an enriching and unique experience! Sending love and thanks to friends and family!

Until next time,New blog signature 2

Hungry for The Hunger Games

Well this post is long overdue . . .

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Let’s take a trip back to November shall we. Before embarking on this study abroad experience, I had heard that one of things I must do while in the city is attend a film premiere, so when I heard that the world premiere of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was going to be in Leicester Square (thanks mom) I knew I had to make the journey into the city. After all  I wasn’t going to miss a once in a lifetime opportunity like this, plus Jennifer Lawrence was set to attend and who wouldn’t want a chance to meet someone as funny and talented as her. After class, I persuaded my friend Lidia to go to Central London with me a few hours before the time that the premiere was set to begin so that we could get a decent area to stand and watch the event take place. Despite the dedicated crowds of people who had been standing there for hours before, some of which even camped out overnight, we managed to snag a couple of standing spots closer to the end of the red carpet. Since the event wasn’t set to start until 5:30 we ended up standing in the drizzling rain for about four hours before any stars started arriving, but it was well worth it! All of the people involved in the film were incredibly gracious to their fans, although, they had to move along quite quickly where we were standing to make it inside on time. Of course the night wouldn’t be complete with out a classic comedic line from Jennifer Lawrence who in response to the interviewer asking how she was, responded “I’m good, I just found a couple of Mentos in my pocket!”IMG_0520IMG_0525IMG_0536And here come the stars we’ve all been waiting for!IMG_0571Willow Shields (Primrose Everdeen)IMG_0550Stanley Tucci (Caesar Flickerman)IMG_0554Donald Sutherland (President Snow)IMG_0593Sam Claflin (Finnick Odair)IMG_1082Josh Hutcherson (Peeta Mellark) Photo compliments of Lidia.IMG_0582Liam Hemsworth (Gale Hawthorne)IMG_0585And finally the beautiful, hilarious and down-to-earth . . .IMG_0588Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss Everdeen)IMG_0590

Overall, it was a successful evening in London and I would definitely recommend attending a movie premiere if you ever get the opportunity because although it can be a long time to wait it is sure to be a memorable experience!

Until next time,New blog signature 2

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like, Dare I Say Christmas?

Here’s an instrumental version of the popular song for some background music whilst you read. Enjoy!

Why hello lovely people of the blogosphere! It’s been a long time since I’ve sat down to write an update on my adventures and this post is long overdue . . . Now I know it is still November, but since the U.K doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, I’ve started to get in to the Christmas spirit early this year. Luckily, I  got back from my Amsterdam trip on Friday, just in time to get to watch the Regent Street holiday lighting and fireworks over the Thames on Saturday evening (the 16th of November)! I went over to Central London with Lidia and got off of the tube near Southbank to go watch the firework show that was scheduled for 5:30 that evening. It’s still amazes me how quickly it gets dark during the wintertime here, but I suppose it isn’t much different from back home in that respect. On the walk towards the river we stumbled upon the Southbank market occupied by vendors filling the bank side with the glorious aroma of hot food off the griddle. As you have probably figured out by now if you’ve been keeping up with my blogs, I have a slight food fixation. Since I hadn’t eaten a proper lunch or dinner, I decided to pick up a kielbasa to eat on the go as Lidia had made it sound quite appealing. We made our way towards our usual coffee-house of choice located along the Thames to indulge in a cappuccino, but upon our arrival, the fireworks started going off so we postponed the java and turned our attention towards the illuminated night sky. The firework shows here seem to be really extravagant! Although I have made it a tradition to attend the fourth of July firework show over the lake back home, I have never seen something quite this grandiose. As someone who loves the holiday season, I had to make it over to Regent St. to witness the lights turn on.IMG_0464 IMG_0465 IMG_0470 IMG_0475

There were so many people on Regent St. all packed in to watch the holiday lights turn on! IMG_0494The Lights are off . . . IMG_0495 and now they are on!!!IMG_0497Fireworks to celebrate the beginning of the holiday season on Regent St.IMG_0509The row of lights down the street.IMG_1071

Each of the light arbors were themed with different days from “The Twelve Days of Christmas” which made both Lidia and I realize that we don’t know the song as well as we thought we did. Although, I am notoriously bad at singing lyrics correctly ha ha. There is something so magical about having the city lit up with decorations and tons of joyful people walking up and down the streets and I can’t wait to see what the city looks like as the holiday season approaches.

Until next time,New blog signature 2

Just Your Average Day at the Apple Store

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Ever since I saw the Downton Abbey post on Facebook that there was going to be a Q&A with a couple of members of the cast at the Apple store on Regent Street, I have been awaiting the day I would have my brush with the Crawley family, and today was the day! I became addicted to the show a couple of summers ago and couldn’t pass up an opportunity like this! After class, a few of my friends here at Goldsmiths boarded the overground to make our way to central London in hopes of listening to the beautiful Michelle Dockery who plays Lady Mary, and the ever so handsome Allen Leech who plays Tom Branson, give a talk about the show. Ahh if only I could meet a lovely chauffeur like Branson to whisk me away, sorry ladies Mr. Leech is taken, but a girl can dream right? We decided to get to the store pretty early in case there was a massive line to wait in because if we made the trek over to central London we might as well try to get a decent spot to listen to the actors give their talk. When we arrived at the store, we noticed that the sign for the event stated that you had to make a reservation to get a spot for viewing, which was not specified anywhere on the Facebook notification, but being surrounded by laptops we rushed over to the nearest one to try and secure our spots! Unfortunately, when we found the page to register, the event was all full. NOOOOO . . .  was our first reaction. You mean we traveled all this way for nothing? I figured I would just explain our little situation to one of the Apple store employees and see if there was any possibility of getting into the event if people who had made a reservation didn’t show up. I mean the worst that they could say was “no, I’m sorry the event is full” right? So my friend Katelyn and I spoke with a lovely employee who reassured us that we would be able to come back in about an hour to wait in the stand-by line and at least get to stand in the back for the Q&A. In the meantime, the girls and I decided to grab a bite to eat across the street from the store and get in the stand-by line in an hour. Boy, was the store crowded though. We waited in line for nearly a half an hour and managed to edge our way towards the front, but were still pretty far back.IMG_0233

The entire event was being filmed to document the interview and so that fans could watch the Q&A online from the comfort of their home. IMG_0239Here is a camera man setting up before the actors entered the space.

Once Michelle Dockery and Allen Leech took their seats and began the interview and Q&A session, everyone was snapping pictures and trying to stand on top of the tables or squeeze their way to the front for a better view. My friend Michelle, with height on her side, managed to get a nice photo for my personal documentation!IMG_0247It was quite difficult to get a photo that wasn’t a little blurry due to the fact that the crowd and the actors kept shifting around, but this one turned out nice! You can see Allen Leech to the left and Michelle Dockery on the right.

I wanted to stay for the talk, but unfortunately from where we were standing it was really tricky to hear and understand what the actors were saying and we couldn’t actually see them very well (the zoom on my camera is responsible for the close photo) so we decided to head back home because the event was being filmed and is available online to watch. All in all, it was well worth the wait and now we all know how to make reservations for future events held at the Apple store! I can’t wait to watch the full Q&A with such inspiring actors, not to mention a couple of my favorite characters on the show.

Until next time,

Lainey xoxo

A Fabulous Friday

IMG_1042Here are a few of the props we were able to work with in my theatre course today. This photo kind of reminded me of the pictures in the old I Spy books I used to read growing up.

Alright I know it has been a really long time since I did a blog post about what I’ve been up to, so I thought I’d give everyone a quick update! Today I had my Questions of Dramaturgy course which can be quite exhausting because it lasts for about eight hours with an included hour for lunch. The morning half of class is dedicated to working with a different tutor in a workshop where we get to learn about different methods to jump-start our creative thinking to create a performance piece, while the second half of class is used to rehearse what we practiced earlier in the day. Although the workshops are interesting, I’m not gonna lie, it is pretty draining to have my long day of class on a Friday. The workshop I attended today focused on the use of objects in devising a performance piece, for example how that object could be interacted with in a different way, how it could be used to establish a  back story for a character, or  how the form of that object could provide a general concept to center a scene around.

During the workshop we were able to explore how to use different props and got to explore the space with music accompaniment. I absolutely love warming up and working with music in the background because not only is it relaxing, it can really set the tone for the work that you come up with. One of the songs our tutor played that I really liked was composed by Philip Glass for the film The Hours. I first heard Philip Glass on Pandora radio a couple of years ago and love the heavy use of strings and repetitive quality of his compositions because they are very soothing and can elicit many emotions. Have a little listen!

After a long day of class, I was about ready to take a nice nap, but I had already planned on paying the Victoria and Albert Museum a visit with some friends, so I pushed through my exhaustion and let me tell you, it was well worth it! The first perk about this museum is that it’s free just like many of the other museums in London. This Friday, the museum was opened late for a night event with different exhibits, activities, and Dj’s to keep the people entertained. This time the theme was back to the 80’s which was super exciting for me because I really enjoy 80’s music! We ended up taking the bus over to the museum because it was a bit cheaper than the tube and we weren’t in a major rush to get to the event anyway. When we boarded the bus, we were actually able to get front row seats on the upper deck and prime viewing for the Central London night scene! Also, the oyster card reader wasn’t working so we didn’t have to pay for the ride! Unfortunately, upon our arrival to the bus stop, we realized our directions had taken us to the Victoria and Albert restaurant and we had traveled 25 minutes in the wrong direction. But hey, at least we got a free bus tour of central London right?IMG_1043Blurry iPhone picture through the bus window. You can even see our reflection in the window!

In addition to getting to look at the regular museum exhibits, there was an area set up where you could get dolled up 80’s style courtesy of Illamasqua makeup artists, view popular 80’s fashion, dance to 80’s music and interact with people dressed up wandering around the event. I was able to wander through some really fascinating exhibits, especially the fashion through the years section where there were different outfits on display. I definitely enjoyed my time at the V&A and plan on going back in the near future to do some more exploring!

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To the left is a photo of the Scarlett Dress pattern draped on a dress form, and on the right is the ceiling of the entrance to the museum lit up for the event.

That’s all I have for now, and I promise next time to remember to bring my camera along for better photos!

Until next time,

Lainey xoxo

Going Global Round Two

IMG_0967The roof over the stage against the dark night sky was so beautiful!

Why hello again! Sorry for the delay in this blog post, my internet here at school has been going in and out lately so it has been difficult to get things accomplished. Ah the joys of freshly installed wi-fi, but I can’t really complain because having the ability to have wi-fi in my room has been amazing! Last Thursday for my Shakespeare in London course here at University, we got to see an evening performance of Macbeth at the Globe theatre as a class. Before the performance there was a talk arranged by the theatre to give us some commentary on Macbeth and a little bit of insight into interpretations of the text. I really enjoyed the talk given. Not only did the lecturer have a great sense of humor, but he was incredibly knowledgeable about the play and production that we were about to watch. Once the pre-show talk concluded we were all sitting on the edges of our seats ready to zip out of the room to grab a good place to stand to view the performance. Our tickets were for the yard section which is historically where the lower class would have gotten to view the productions put on at the theatre. I was really excited to get to watch the show from the yard because you have the opportunity to get so close to the stage that you can actually lean on it! It is a totally different experience from sitting down, especially since you can see everyone seated around you and you are so closely packed in with other audience members trying to keep warm in the crisp night air. IMG_0962Here is a view of the stage and set. You can see the heavens, which is the door on the ceiling, if you look up.

We managed to snag a great spot on the side of the stage right against the stage to view the performance. I feel very fortunate to have been able to get so close to the action going on because it is such a unique experience to be that close to the actors in such a big space (as opposed to say, a black box theatre for example) as they enter and exit the stage and use the stairs on the side to walk into the audience. We really lucked out on the clear skies as well. I think if it had been pouring down rain we would have been so numb from the cold it would’ve been quite a challenge to walk back to the tube station! Now, we weren’t allowed to take photographs of the stage once the actors were on stage, but I was able to get a few iPhone snapshots before the show started. Here is a photo to give you a sense of where my classmates and I got to stand.IMG_0964

The production began with the cast entering through the doors on stage and taking their places. Then they started playing a song on different percussion instruments to help set the tone for the show. It also ended with a lovely melancholy song that started out with a tune on a solo violin played by one of the cast members who was eventually joined by the rest of the band accompanying the production. To end things on a lighter note, the production ended with a joyful dance by the cast to reassure the audience that it was all merely a story. All of my friends in my class had been talking about how excited they were to see Macbeth because of a particular actor who was set to play Banquo. That actor being Billy Boyd, or as most of you probably would recognize him as the guy who played Pippin in The Lord of The Rings Trilogy! I have to say as silly as it sounds it’s always kind of fun to have a brush with a famous actor! This was my first time seeing Macbeth performed and I feel so lucky to have seen it at the Globe. Not only was the overall experience a memory I will reference for the rest of my life, the production was so enthralling to watch because the cast had such incredible chemistry, plus the actor playing Macbeth wasn’t bad to look at either. Everyone needs a bit of eye candy once in a while. Overall, the acting was very believable and everyone seemed to have great energy to keep the audience on the tips of their toes leaning forward to witness the action! Hopefully I will get to see more productions at the Globe in the future, and if you are ever in London it is well worth the money!

Until next time,

Lainey xoxo